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Two Seniors Named National Merit Finalists

Two Belton ISD seniors are among 15,000 high school students nationwide to be selected as finalists for the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Caleb Bovell, from Belton High School, and Kevin Thomas, from Belton New Tech @Waskow, learned this week they were named National Merit finalists. This honor comes with the opportunity to earn scholarship money to be awarded later this spring.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” Superintendent Matt Smith said. “We’re incredibly proud of the hard work and commitment to learning that is reflected behind it.” 

The seniors were notified in the fall that they were semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition. To be selected as finalists, they submitted applications with information about their academic record, school and community activities, leadership characteristics and awards earned.

BHS Principal Ben Smith called Bovell “a complete student,” describing how he’s been a successful varsity swimmer and member of the theatre program.

“He’s a perfect example of what we’ve been trying to push at BHS — a complete student,” Smith said. “It’s the whole experience of what you can be involved in and participate in and still excel in the classroom.”

Bovell credits the people around him — his teachers, coaches, directors and friends — for their support and for pushing him to do great in all things.

“My teachers set high expectations and then they’ve provided the resources to help us get there,” Bovell said. “Swimming has taught me how to work hard and strive for something. It’s taught me perseverance. When you go to practice and your coach pushes you to do something you don’t think you can do, and then you do it — that pushes you toward excellence and reminds you that you can do more than you thought. Theatre has taught me a lot about community and building connections with people. That’s going to help me in college to find a community and pour myself into it.” 

Bovell, the son of Ronald and Stacey Bovell, also participates in the National Honor Society and Student Council. After graduating, he plans to study mechanical engineering and art to follow his dream of becoming an Imagineer with Disney.

“To have a student reach this pinnacle is an incredible feeling as a principal,” Smith said. “The biggest thing is to see the smile on his face and know how happy he is at accomplishing this amazing feat.”

New Tech Principal Kim Winters is equally proud of Thomas.

“Kevin’s dedication to his studies and our school is tremendous,” Winters said. “We are so proud of his hard work and excited about the doors this recognition will open for him. He is most deserving of this honor.” 

In January, Thomas, the son of Thomaskutty Alumparambil and Tesina Paul, was named one of about 5,000 students nationwide as a candidate for the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. At New Tech he is the service coordinator for the National Honor Society and works for the student newspaper, Blair St. Journal, managing a team of writers. He’s spent the past two summers interning with clinical research institutions in India with the goal of one day entering the medical profession.

“I’m excited to hear this news because it confers some large scholarships at many of my college choices,” he said. “It’s a significant step in my academic journey.”

While his journey as a student at New Tech will conclude when he graduates in May, Thomas won’t soon forget the experience.

“I will most definitely hold my teachers in my memory for a long time to come,” he said. “I’ve been constantly surprised at the expertise and love of learning my teachers have expressed over my past three years at New Tech.”

Of the 15,000 finalists nationwide, about 7,500 will be awarded a merit scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarship winners will be announced this spring.

Feb. 16, 2023